Thoughts on AUTHENTICITY~
By Christina MacLeod
What does it mean to be authentic? Authenticity is being real with yourself, telling yourself the truth through the lens of neutrality. It comes from a deep awareness of patterns, triggers, and emotional reactions to stimuli outside of ourselves and our spontaneous inner responses. Authenticity is acceptance of myself as I am, deeply knowing that I am so much more than my appearance, my perceived limitations, my lack of confidence, or even my process. Looking into my own eyes reflected back and saying Yes! there is a raw honesty that comes with facing and holding every flaw, every limitation, without the need for pretense or other forms of hiding. The result is genuineness. People don’t always like or feel comfortable around the truth of others. It’s not always pretty or happy. The choice is a conscious one, to be real, un-adapted, un-defended. “What you see is what you get”, if you are ready to look deeply into the Spirit behind those eyes. True authenticity is being in the moment, with the desire and ability to meet life with whole-hearted spontaneity. What others think and feel or how they choose to respond to my authentic nature is their reaction. It’s not that I don’t care how people respond; it is, more importantly, that my behavior is not pre-planned to evoke a certain response, be it admiration, praise or any other means of unhealthy manipulated attraction. This can be a life’s work for many of us, who come from co-dependent roots, shame based family systems, or fall to the expectations of others who do not grasp or respect the relevance or importance of healthy, un-adapted boundaries.
When walking the path of authenticity, I believe it important to be vigilant, especially at the early stages of embracing this journey. As a life choice, its core feels like honesty with self, acceptance of what is, and being out in the world in that way; determined not to fall into old patterns of right and wrong, finding fault, pretense, or making oneself better than or less than. So, authenticity also involves equanimity, a sense of fairness and justice. Perception can be a tricky and illusive phenomenon. No one can be in another’s shoes. No two people see the world in exactly the same way. Authenticity implies a respect for one’s uniqueness and the uniqueness of others. With an authentic presence, discernment of fairness and equality is possible. I can then let go of the instances when I don’t feel heard or recognized or met. A subtle shift takes place in our attachment to what transpires in the outside world. There is a freedom, a carefree spirit that can relax and release into the perfection of any given moment, in the knowing that all is as it should be. A quiet recognition that joy comes from living that freedom, a meaningful knowing that we control the quality of our experiences with self and other.
Authenticity requires that both sides of the brain, the linear and the imaginative, join together in alchemical union, and then once interwoven, allowing greater trust in our perceptions. Then choosing our actions from that place of harmonious balance. Without self-knowledge and practice, authentically healthy ways of being in the world can be sabotaged by unknown, unidentified, and unmet needs. The goal then becomes using situations and others to gratify the self. The opportunity for clean, truthful and respectful relationships then slips out of our grasp into the realm of possibility instead of reality.
What I have been describing up to now is active authenticity, that is, us reaching out into our interactive world with others. There is also a type of receptive authenticity. In receptive mode, authenticity involves paying close attention to the details and feeling tones of our sense impressions, both inwardly and outwardly, actively and receptively, linearly, intuitively and metaphorically. Whether we are in meditation, chatting over coffee, or in the board room, the call is to engage the wise Self on all levels in perceiving the real information that is being communicated by another person, circumstance or phenomenon; truly seeing, hearing, recognizing and meeting Other. It might also be experienced as “reading between [or through] the lines”. This type of perception requires a neutral, open state of being, without pre-judgment (prejudice), expectation, or personal agenda. Genuine interpersonal engagement, whether through active expression or active listening, can only happen when there is freedom to be one’s true self in any given situation. Can we look into our own reflection or into the eyes of another and say Yes?
Westcliffe, Colorado, January 28, 2013